The train journey from Winnipeg to Halifax took five nights. James had made that same journey in the opposite direction three and a half years previously. At that time he was stunned by the mid-winter scenery. He wrote home of the “snow-clad forests of Nova Scotia … miles of lakes, all frozen over and surrounded by snow-laden trees.” The idyllic scenery, he admitted, “years could not eradicate from my mind” (letters, 27th Dec. 1912). Although the weather on this journey was not particularly favourable, James recorded some of the scenes and landmarks in his diary.
We passed thro’ Montreal today. It is a large city. The bridge east of the city is a fine construction about 1 1/2 miles long (17th May).
The journey to Halifax was long and not particularly enjoyable, for poor weather prevailed during most of the five days, obscuring the varied scenery. The colonist car bunks proved pretty hard beds, but there were no genuine causes of complaint, for food was plentiful and nourishing if much less daintily served than at the grand hotel M. A.C.[Manitoba Agricultural College]. Reading, card tournaments, or sometimes a friendly rag, served to fleet the time, while in pleasant conversations the foundations of friendships were formed and interesting characters encountered. Full advantage was taken of every stoppage to greet the good people at the particular depot and a pretty girl became the cynosure of all eyes. Already one felt that the gentler aspects of life were receding into the past.
At North Bay and Moncton time was allowed for short route marches and these leg-stretchings were never so much appreciated. At other points permission was given to detrain and several times “physical jerks” were performed in the depot itself, much to the entertainment of the local inhabitants.
(Diary of the Eleventh, 13)